[rescue] Cold War hardware movements - was Re: WTB: Functioning VAX machine

Toby Thain toby at telegraphics.com.au
Mon Feb 20 01:01:13 CST 2012

On 20/02/12 1:44 AM, Jonathan Groll wrote:
> On Sun, 19 Feb 2012 20:16:41 +0200, Andrew Gaylard<ag at computer.org>  wrote:
>> While on the topic of vaxen, a colleague at $WORK mentioned to me that
>> in his younger days, he worked on a VAX clone made for (by?) the South
>> African
>> military during the 70s/80s (the period during which US sanctions forbade
>> the
>> sale of that kind of tech to the country).
>> Apparently, they were called the "boerevax".
>> Anyone have any info on this corner of computing history?
>> (No, I don't want one in my living room, I'm just curious...)
> Anecdotally, I have heard that in the early 1980s there was a VAX or
> two that got intercepted in Sweden (en route to Russia, the part that
> doesn't make any sense!) and these eventually ended up in South
> Africa. And yes, Digital did not sell it's machines to apartheid South
> Africa.
> Although why these machines were en route to Soviet Russia makes less
> sense.

I've been told -- by people who were there -- that plenty of supposedly 
embargoed parts were available in Moscow for the right price -- e.g. 
Intel microprocessors.

How did they get there? :)

Plus, given the importance of PDP-11 clones, the Soviet bloc must have 
had hardware at some point; if the embargo had been perfect they'd have 
invented their own architecture, I speculate. They certainly were 
capable of it. It's not clear what real benefit compatibility is, under 
the circumstances.


> Cheers,
> Jonathan
> --
> jjg: Jonathan J. Groll : groll co za
> has_one { :blog =>  "http://bloggroll.com" }
> "Work is most fulfilling when you're at the comfortable, exciting edge
>   of not quite knowing what you are doing. " - Alain de Botton
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